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Bolshoi ballet dancer denies organising an acid attack on artistic director

Pavel Dmitrichenko, 29, was accused of planning the attack in January on Sergei Filin

A top dancer at the Bolshoi Theatre has pleaded not guilty to masterminding an acid attack on the ballet’s artistic director.

Pavel Dmitrichenko, 29, was accused by prosecutors at the central Moscow court of planning the attack on 17 January, that led to co-defendant Yury Zarutsky allegedly throwing a jar of sulphuric acid into the face of Sergei Filin. He was nearly blinded.

Dmitrichenko has admitted to many of the prosecution’s circumstantial allegations but denied he was guilty of organising the crime.

In an echo of the infighting at the Bolshoi Theatre that allegedly lay at the heart of the crime, Dmitrichenko accused Filin in court of having “intimate relations with young ballerinas” whose jobs depended on him, including soloist Olga Smirnova, Russian news agencies reported.

Filin’s lawyer Natalya Zhivotkova told The Independent the allegations were “absolute lies” and that Smirnova was the wife of a close friend of Filin’s. She said Filin will give testimony in court on 6 November, adding his legal team will seek 3.5million rubles (£68,000) in compensation.

Zarutsky and Andrei Lipatov, who is accused of driving the car used to transport the attacker, face 12 years in prison on charges of wilfully inflicting grievous bodily harm. Zarutsky told the court he carried out the crime alone and that Dmitrichenko and Lipatov had nothing to do with it. Lipatov pleaded not guilty. However, prosecutors argue Dmitrichenko had planned the crime as he was unhappy with how Filin assigned roles. Previous reports claimed the dancer wanted revenge after his girlfriend, soloist Anzhelina Vorontsova, was denied a major role in Swan Lake by Filin.

Prosecutors claim Dmitrichenko meticulously planned the attack, buying mobile phones and checking out the scene of the crime with his accomplices three months before to note the site of security cameras. Dmitrichenko admitted he had bought the phones and been at the theatre on 17 January, but said he had done so for “other purposes” than to commit the crime.

He told the court he had discussed the ballet profession with Zarutsky who wanted his daughter to become a ballerina. Dmitrichenko said during the conversation he had criticised Filin’s management of the troupe. He alleged the attack resulted from the “beastly behaviour” of Zarutsky, who decided to punish Filin of his own accord.

The trial continues.

Sergei Filin leaving hospital earlier this year (Getty)